• 11th September 2010 SOSSA PELAGIC TRIP, WOLLONGONG, NSW, AUSTRALIA.

    This trip was organised by Phil Stewart of the Nth Ryde Technical and Further Education College to observe seabird banding activities at sea.

    Report prepared by: Lindsay E. Smith.

    Departed: 07:25 returned at 15:45.

    Sea conditions: 2.0 - 3m easing later in the day
    Swell: South Easterly 1.0m inshore increasing to 3 m beyond the continental shelf decreasing during the day 1.5mts inshore in the afternoon.
    Weather: Cloudless skies during the morning. Light cloud later in the day.
    Temperature range: 11 to 19įC.
    Barometric pressure: 1024 HPa. Rising
    Wind: South -SW 10 to 15 knots in the morning, easing later in the day. South East 5 to 8 knots in the afternoon.
    Sea surface temperature: 18į-19.2 C
    Primary chumming location: 34į 34 30 s 151 15 05

    Summary:

    A series of strong NW west winds had abated overnight easing late on Friday night and turning to the SW by morning. As we departed the harbour the wind had eased to 10-15knots from the SW and the seas had abated to 1-2m inshore.

    A few Australasian Gannets (Adults) were patrolling the inshore waters as were, small parties of Fluttering Shearwaters. The most unusual sight in inshore waters was a flock of 5 Sacred Ibis 4 kilometres from shore and heading straight to Big Island. The bets were on as to just where these birds were coming from. Three experienced Ibis researchers on board suggested the Meni Rubbish Tip! They were referred to as ďDump TurkeysĒ

    A few Albatrosses, mainly Black-browed, and Shy types, were observed feeding on the Giant Cuttlefish, which were still about in small numbers. Once again we had brief views, of a White-fronted Tern as we cruised past the Wollongong Trap Reef.

    Generally in inshore waters, birds were in lower numbers than our last trip. Fluttering Shearwaters were more abundant and Huttonís Shearwaters were few. As expected at this time of the year the Wedge-tailed Shearwaters had begun to return and were present in low numbers.

    The Silver Gulls were conspicuous by their low numbers, though a flock of approximately 20 birds followed us throughout the day and by the time we reached the lee of the islands on our return, the numbers had increased to several hundreds.

    Albatross numbers were also well down. As we headed out past the Trap reef Black-browed, Yellow-nosed and Shy Albatross numbers increased slightly

    The numbers of wedge-tailed Shearwaters also increased significantly. The banding crew set about catching and banding these as we headed out to the continental shelf

    As we cruised over the edge of the continental shelf at the 100-fathom line the sea temperature increased to 19.2C. Here we also encountered a strong current flowing south at 1knot..
    Here to we were joined by a few Wandering Albatrosses D.exulans of different ages. Which past over our wake circled the boat a few times before landing on the water 50 metres from the boat, much to the delight of all on board.

    Conditions over the shelf were quite comfortable with swells to 3 meters. With 15-18 knot wind from the SW we were able to stop and drift. The banding team were able to capture and band a few Wandering Albatrosses, whilst a juvenile Northern Giant Petrel with a Yellow colour band fitted to its right leg and a metal band on its left leg eluded capture. Eventually the birds lost interest in us and alighted well fed on the ocean.

    We set course for the harbour as conditions eased significantly. The wind had dropped to a 5-10 knots and the sea flattened out to 1metre. After we had turned around we stopped briefly to watch a few Grey-faced petrels, Solanders petrels a Cape Petrel and a White-faced Storm-petrel foraging over the slick that we had laid. We motored off again and the birds followed before stopping again outside the Trap Reef, in 75 fathoms to catch and band a 2year old Bullerís Albatross. Whilst stopped we observed several Hump backed Whales blowing in the distance over our wake. We decided to remain stationary to see what the whales were doing. Whilst stopped the Banding team again set to work catching Wandering Albatrosses as there were 10 birds at the back of the boat!

    The Humpback whales had become inquisitive and we soon had three very large animals putting on a great display with in metres and under the Sandra K. Spy hopping and eyeing us off.
    They continued this for almost 30 minutes, rolling over and swimming up side down before moving off slowly much to the delight of all on board. We too headed back to the harbour.

    Once again a great day on the water and a successful day for the banding team with 5 Wandering Albatross, 1 Bullerís Albatross, 1 Yellow-nosed Albatross and 35 Wedge-tailed Shearwaters being captured for the day,

    Highlights:

    Humpback Whales
    Bullerís Albatross
    Salvinís Albatross
    Northern Giant Petrel fitted with a yellow band on itís right leg and a metal band on itís left.

    Birds recorded according to the latest Environment Australia Reporting Schedule:

    Species code: Species name: Numbers:
    (Note: numbers in parenthesis = highest count at any one time)
    929 Southern Giant petrel Macronectes giganteus 2 (1)
    937 Northern Giant Petrel Macronectes halli 1 (1)
    080 Cape Petrel Daption australe 1 (1)
    075 Grey-faced Petrel Pterodroma m. gouldi 5 (3)
    971 Solanderís Petrel Pterodroma solandri 5 (3)
    068 Fluttering Shearwater P. gavia > 100 (30)
    069 Wedge-tailed Shearwater P.pacificus 200+ (150+)
    913 Hutton's Shearwater P. huttoni <10 (6)
    086 Wandering Albatross D.exulans >20 (8)
    847 Gibsonís Albatross D.gibsoni 3 (1)
    088 Black-browed Albatross Thalassarche melanophris 20+ (15)
    931 Bullerís Albatross T.bulleri
    091 Shy Albatross T. cauta. >10 (6)
    861 White-capped Albatross T. steadi 2 (1)
    862 Salvinís Albatross T salvini
    089 Indian yellow-nosed Albatross 10+ (6)
    065 White-faced Storm-petrel
    104 Australasian Gannet Morus serrator .>40 (16)
    106 Australian Pelican Pelicanus conspicillatus 5 (5)
    981 Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus 5 (3)
    125 Silver Gull L. novaehollandiae 200+ (200+)
    115 Crested Tern Sterna bergii 20+ (13)
    114 White-fronted Tern sterna striata 1 (1)
    8698 Brown Skua Catharacta lonnbergi 1

    In the harbour:

    097. Little-black cormorant Phalacrocorax sulcirostris 1
    096 Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 1
    100 Little Pied Cormorant, P. melanoleucos 1
    106 Australian Pelican Pelicanus conspicillatus 2 (2)

    Other birds:

    131 Sooty Oystercatcher Haematopus fuliginosus 2

    Mammals:

    Humpback Whale 3
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